‘And it was all yellow’ - Interview with 222 Matthew High
222 Matthew High has now formularised himself as a well known name across the raceways, his regular yellow paint scheme known across both the UK and the continent, but it may come as a surprise that Matty’s qualification on this year’s World Final grid is his first. Bryson caught up with the 33 year old from Corton, Suffolk about all things World Final and more.
We began the interview with the typical question as to how Matty got into the racing, and unlike most of our other interviewees where it was through family, Matty has a rather unique story to share. “I used to watch bangers as a kid, but it all came about courtesy of an RC Banger meeting at Ipswich. Darren Frost (30) began doing the remote control bangers and we were chatting away, and it came about that he was slowing down on his Rookie Banger career due to him having a hernia. He had a used car ready to go, and at first I thought he was joking, but a week later he called me up saying he had booked in and all I needed to bring was a helmet! I was on the grid looking around at all of the drivers I use to cheer on and it felt surreal, as if I had no right to be there, but I got a few laps in and then I was hooked!”
From early humble beginnings, Matty compares where his racing is at now to where his views and racing experiences were at back when he began. “When I first started, I was as keen as anything; looking at local fixtures I’d say we’ll do all EA Spedeworth, Kings Lynn and Mildenhall Unlimited meetings! Now I’m just picking and choosing meetings. The plan this year was to do all BWS rounds and if the cars survived we would use them up wherever. I’m trying to slow down with racing and not buying many cars; just using my stock up. In general, Unlimited's now are a travelling circus - a lot of people have to travel a long way to race with tracks shutting down and the lack of Unlimited meetings that are on these days.” It isn’t the latter reason as to why Matty is looking at slowing down though, admitting it is more due to “adult stuff to be honest. For the past 4 years, I’ve put all my time, effort and money in to racing and now I need to settle down; get a house with the mrs and go from there because I’m not getting any younger!”
With Matty confessing that this was his last full year before slowing down, it seems fitting that he managed to put himself on the World Final grid, rewarding all that time, money and effort he has put in to the racing, but that was far from his intentions at the start of the year. “My main aim for this year was to get Dennis (Vorkink 211) in the World. Every time both cars needed fixing, I put Dennis’ car first. As a kid going to Wimbledon and watching the World Final, it has always been a dream of mine to be in the main race. I had a few cars that I used knowing they would give me material points, so I thought I stood half a chance through the entertainer points.” It looks as if it will be dream come true come November, as long as the meeting goes ahead amongst the COVID uncertainty, but it’s great to see new faces on the grid always. Touching on Matty’s comments relating on Dennis’ qualifying campaign, he was understandably as gutted as most banger fans that learnt that Dennis would be unable to fulfil his dream and position on the grid due to the restrictions surrounding travel in and out of the UK. “I’m gutted for Dennis, because he puts 100% into his racing and it’s his life - I know he has tried everything to come over!”
A special friendship has blossomed between Matty and Dennis, and is great to see. Racing is one big family and it’s great to see bonds made like that. The friendship developed out of the blue, Matty recalls. “The first or second time I raced in Belgium, Dennis came bouncing over to me saying ‘you race good; you race in Holland with me Emmen teams’, and that was that! His english was very little, but over the years his english has come on a lot.” It shows that no matter what your language or background, the shared passion of racing can bring people together and that’s what we do it for!
Focussing back to Matty’s year, he really has been one of the standout performers this side of the lockdown; being in particular fine form at Kings Lynn. Matty claims his recent run of form is down to just not worrying as much as he once did. “To be honest, with me slowing down, my thoughts are that I don’t need to save my gear (engines/gearboxes, tyres etc), so instead of thinking I need to save a car or be careful with stuff , my thoughts are if it breaks I don’t need it again, so its given me free reign to enjoy myself! Any meeting in a Jag I enjoy as I feel happy and comfortable in them. The Unlimited East Anglian at Lynn I did some good hits.; plodding around and every lap a hit was there to be done - everything fell into place! Normally it doesn’t work like that!”
Matty is the first to admit luck is not always on his side, but has had his pick of career highlights. “The last Firecracker was a good meeting. Again, it was one that I’d been going with my dad to every year to, watching and dreaming of racing it one day, to finally racing the last one, it was a really good feeling.” Again, you really get the impression with Matty that racing really is a case of him living out his childhood dream, and sharing those memories with those around him. “Doing Belgium and Holland is always a good time; its not just the racing that counts , its the travelling, the people you meet, you just always have a good weekend away abroad!”
So with slowing down on the Bangers, does that leave avenues open for Matty to feature in another formula? Matty admits, “I don’t know. I enjoy crashing too much. I’ve never seen myself in anything other than a Banger. With Bangers, having a good crash is better than winning half of the time.” Having that mindset in place, we’d assume if Matty were to form his dream 8 a side team including himself, that it would be full of crashers and entertainers, but it’s more a team of all round capabilities. “It’s a hard one, because there are so many top drivers but for me it would be 46 Keith Painter, 47 Andy Davies, 120 Shane Brown, 138 Elliot Dobson, 158 Shane Davies, 211 Dennis Vorkink, I suppose I better put him in, Me (he laughs) and 349 Michael Allard.”
“I admire all the underdogs though to be honest! The boys on the trailers or the beavertail transits. I was there once, looking around wondering how I’m going to get my wreck on my transit. It doesn’t bother me who’s out on the track; I’m out there to enjoy myself, whether it’s just a lap or I finish.”
Should the World Final get the go ahead on its rescheduled date of November 14th, Matty has a trusty Jaguar for the occasion. It is worth noting this interview was conducted a few days before the original scheduled date. “ I got told on the 21st September I’d made it in and at that point I had no cars built ready - the only car I had in my garden was an XJ8 Jaguar that was stripped. Me and the mrs had an anniversary break booked for 4 days (26th - 29th September), so it left little time for anything fancy and I could chuck everything in the xj8 with no hassle.” After that, Matty has no direct plans, although he hopes to do the UK Open at Ringwood in December - “I really like the track and the atmosphere is always good at that one! I’ll have a few cars sat there ready, and if I get the urge then they are ready to go. I couldn’t imagine leaving the racing fully. Obviously you go to a meeting to race, but also to catch up with mates, and half the time the banter is better than the racing!”
As always, a driver is just one piece of the jigsaw, so Matty would like to extend his thanks to his team and all that have assisted over the years. “ Mostly my parents for letting me turn their garden into a scrapyard. The mrs for supporting me and putting up with me, and all my friends that have helped along the way - they all know who they are!”
Our thanks to Jimbo’s Race Photos, Northern Bangers, Eastcoast Stockcars Photography, Ditch Dalton, The Spectator, AC Photos and all others for the photos - a lot of which were selected by Matty which he describes as summing up his attitude and enjoyment side of racing.